A man yelled “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump” during the intermission of the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” in Baltimore Wednesday night, according to witnesses who said they immediately feared that a gunman was in the building.
Video taken inside the Hippodrome Theatre shows stunned guests staring into the balcony as some scream, “Get out,” in the aftermath of the anti-Semitic outburst.
Police later identified the screamer as 58-year-old Anthony Derlunas, who claims his “hatred” for the president prompted the outburst, according to WBAL.
“The final scene before intermission reminded him of his hatred for Donald Trump, which caused him to stand up and yell ‘Heil Hitler, Heil Trump,’” the police report states.
Heather O’Hare, who said she was sitting in the orchestra when the incident occurred, told HuffPost the timing of the man’s shout was particularly distressing. It followed the play’s wedding scene, in which tsarist Russian officers disrupt the joyful event ― a moment that left the audience “with the sadness of the emotional weight” of what was depicted, she said.
“I heard the disturbance and people in the front orchestra seats started to turn and look up at the balcony and someone started shouting back: ‘Go home, Nazi!’” she said in an email.
“We were kind (of) confused and numb about what actually was happening, but several audience members were palpably upset and decided to leave during the intermission break. The entire right half of the row in front of me was gone after Act One,” she said.
The Baltimore Police Department confirmed that officers were called to the theater just after 9:30 p.m. Derlunas was escorted out of the theater, and a police spokeswoman told HuffPost that no arrests were made.
Derlunas’ girlfriend said that the suspect was off his medication that night, and had been drinking heavily, according to the report obtained by WBAL.
Witnesses said the man’s behavior made plenty of people uncomfortable, even fearful for their lives.
“When I first heard what he was saying, I seriously was thinking he was going to start shooting us [because] at that point I couldn’t see who was saying it,” another witness, who only gave her first name of Melissa, told HuffPost in an electronic message.
“I heard him yell it at least twice,” she said of the anti-Semitic chant. She described the man as white and in his late 60s or early 70s. “People started shouting, ‘Get him out’ and other stuff. Security came and escorted him out.”
Attendee Rich Scherr, who recorded the 20-second video on his phone, told The Baltimore Sun that “people started running” immediately after the shouting began.
“I’ll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought, ‘Here we go,’” he told the newspaper, adding that he found it difficult to pay attention during the second act.
The Hippodrome, in a statement obtained by HuffPost, said the man’s behavior “is not, and will not be, tolerated.”
“We apologize to those patrons who were affected by this unfortunate incident. Our venue has a proud tradition of providing shared experiences to people from all walks of life, right in the heart of this wonderfully diverse city, and we intend to continue that tradition in the spirit of bringing people together, not dividing them,” the theater said.
A spokeswoman for the theater declined to say whether the suspect will be allowed back to the theater or penalized in any other way.
The incident comes just a few weeks after a gunman massacred 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Robert Bowers, 46, a known anti-Semite, was arrested and has been charged in the shooting.
This story has been updated to include information from the police report that identified the suspect and gave details about what he claimed led to his outburst and what his girlfriend told police.